Ruwan Samaraweera

Bridging Conservation and Livelihoods: Addressing the Human-Elephant Conflict in Sri Lanka on World Elephant Day

On World Elephant Day, attention turns to the unique challenges faced by Sri Lanka in the realm of human-elephant conflict (HEC). HEC’s escalating toll paints a stark reality. Human communities endure property damage, crop loss, and tragic fatalities, amplifying poverty and socio-economic instability. In 2022, as per the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), Sri Lanka documented a total of 145 human fatalities resulting from HEC. Simultaneously, elephants face habitat loss, injuries, and mortality due to retaliatory killings and encounters with human settlements. DWC reported a substantial rise in elephant mortality, reaching a peak with a recorded total of 433 deaths in 2022. Therefore, the urgent need for implementing effective solutions to minimise HEC in the country becomes paramount.

The X-Press Pearl Disaster: From Flames to Prevention

Sri Lanka’s ecological disaster related to the MV X-Press Pearl, a container ship carrying hazardous chemicals that caught fire off its coast on 20 May 2021, is back in the news as the country attempts to claim damages. The ecological disaster washed up tons of plastic pellets and other pollutants on the country’s beaches and harmed its marine ecosystem. It is a stark reminder of the risks associated with transporting hazardous materials and the urgent need for governments and companies to take proactive measures to prevent such disasters in the future. This blog revisits the environmental impact of the X-Press Pearl disaster and discusses how Sri Lanka can use the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) to develop strategies and policies to prevent similar disasters from happening near its shores again.

Plastic Pandemic: The Ecological Fallout of COVID-19 and Policy Options for Sri Lanka

The lockdowns introduced in 2020 to curb the spread of COVID-19 saw the narrative “nature is healing” gain prominence. However, the notion that nature, in the absence of people, was healing fizzled out fairly quickly with the emergence of fresh environmental challenges, most notably, the resurgence of single-use plastics. This blog examines the ecological fallout of the pandemic and suggests policy options for Sri Lanka to avert the looming environmental disaster.

Healing the Ozone Layer: The Need for a National Cooling Policy (NCP) for Sri Lanka

The ozone layer is located in the lower stratosphere at a height of 15 to 30 kilometres above the earth, protecting it against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation. It is like a blanket that protects the planet; a reduction in ozone concentration increases solar radiation damaging plants, animals, and human beings. Human-induced depletion of the ozone layer due to excessive emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) which are primarily used in the cooling sector is a major global environmental concern. This blog discusses the importance of a National Cooling Policy (NCP) for Sri Lanka as a part of IPS’ ongoing research, to phase out ODS to prevent ozone depletion and mitigate global warming.

Forest Restoration: Where Does Sri Lanka Stand?

This year, the International Day of Forests is marked under the apt theme “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”.  Forest restoration is one of the priority areas for mitigating the effects of climate change. Restoration and sustainable management of forests will help absorb atmospheric pollutants, re-build natural habitats and sustain life on earth.
This blog discusses Sri Lanka’s declining forest cover and offers suggestions on how the drivers of deforestation can be countered.